Regarding the Austrian Parliament, a general political consensus and support by all political parties could be reached by a reform process that created a win-win-situation for the MoF and the political parties: on the one hand, the MoF could accomplish its reform; on the other, the political parties made sure that issues of particular relevance for them – such as the role and the rights of Parliament in the budget process – were designed according to their needs. Additionally, it was attractive for Parliament that the reform design of the MoF included detailed and regular performance information in the future annual budget bill. Therefore, Parliament’s portfolio was substantially enriched.
Another obstacle to overcome was to reach an agreement with the Court of Audit (CoA). The CoA could get convinced to support the Reform by giving it the opportunity to add its perspective. As in the case of Parliament, the CoA benefited from additional levers and broadened its portfolio: the introduction of performance budgeting requires an institution to evaluate ex post, whether, and to what extent, the outcomes and outputs have been fulfilled. In addition, the CoA gained the right to receive additional reports from line ministries and the MoF, and must be consulted in diverse budgetary matters. The CoA, which already had a strong influence on public administration and politics, obtained more opportunities to act and express its views.
As far as the line ministries were concerned, it was much harder gaining their approval for the reform. Traditionally, budget legislation guarantees the MoF a very strong role towards line ministries and the latter tried – basically without success – to change that in the course of the Budget Reform. As any draft of new legislation has to achieve unanimity within the Council of Ministers, the MoF had to lobby hard. Three factors finally helped to reach unanimity:
● The reform offered some advantages for the line ministries: more flexibility both in budget preparation and execution and the possibility to publicly present their efforts and work, with the introduction of performance budgeting.
● The fundamental decision to carry out the reform had been previously made on a constitutional basis in 2007 therefore, there was no way back (“the bridges were burned”). The line ministries realised that at the end of the day their potential for resistance was limited.
● The MoF made a deal with the Chancellery: in return for their approval and promotion of the reform, the Chancellery was given a monitoring role in performance budgeting, and thereby enriched its portfolio.
This new role for the Chancellery implies a monitoring of the outcomes and outputs, which are still defined by the line ministries. Due to the Austrian Constitution, the Chancellor has no guiding role vis-à-vis ministers. This has not changed with the Austrian Budget Reform. Therefore, the Chancellery’s role is to monitor and support the methods, processes and results of outcomes and outputs, but it does not give orders to line ministers on their results.